If you are the parent of a child or teen diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, your physician will probably prescribed stimulant drugs as the solution. Although these drugs may make your child settle down in class and be more compliant in the short term, there is no conclusive evidence that this will translate into better grades or academic performance. Also, all of these drugs have harmful side-effects with long-term use.
Have you ever considered using an ADHD natural remedy instead?
Herbs that are used to treat ADHD include:
Ginkgo Biloba, Brahmi (Bacopa monniera), Siberian Ginseng, Gotu Kola, Scuttelaria (also known as Skullcap), German Chamomile, Gotu Kola, Avena Sativa (Oatstraw), Rooibos, Lemon Balm, Valerian, Lobelia, and Hawthorn.
Avoid Sugar: Research has shown that children with ADD and ADHD may not digest sugars properly. Sugar consumption has been linked to aggressive, restless behavior.
Avoid Soft Drinks: Both sugar-free and sweetened contain phosphates which displaces calcium/magnesium levels, causing exaggerated muscle activity.
Get Plenty of Sunlight: Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD, is sometimes misdiagnosed as ADD or ADHD. Occurring mostly in northern latitudes during the winter months, SAD produces ADD-like symptoms. Consider exposure to full-spectrum lighting if unable to spend time outdoors each day.
Herbal Treatments & the Alarming Increased Medical Use of Stimulants:
The use of herbal medicine in the treatment of ADHD is of high interest to the many families and professionals looking for alternatives to drug therapy. This interest has no doubt heightened in recent years due to problematic and near epidemic-proportion use of stimulants in children. The following review of an alarming trend to medicate ever-increasing numbers of school- and pre-school age children will help serve to emphasize the need for greater research into natural alternative treatments.
Conventional pharmaceutical treatment for ADD/ADHD commonly includes methylphenidate (Ritalin) or amphetamine (primarily Adderall and Dexedrine). Both of the substances are powerful stimulants that have been in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) since 1971. Schedule II of the CSA contains those substances that have the highest abuse potential and dependence profile of all drugs that have medical utility.
According to the DEA’s own records, the production of methylphenidate by the drug manufacturers in this country has increased by more than 500 percent since 1991. The production of amphetamine has increased by over 2,000 percent in the same nine-year period of time. More than 50 percent of the methylphenidate and amphetamine prescriptions are written by pediatritions.
Their data indicate that the number prescriptions written for ADHD has increased by a factor of 5 since 1991. In 1998 alone, over 4,000 prescriptions for methylphenidate were written for children 2 years of age or less. (It should be noted that this drug is not approved for use in children under six years of age because safety and efficacy has not been established.)
The use of these medications varies widely from one region and community to another, with some regions identifying up to 20% of the student population receiving stimulants for ADHD.
(Caffeine-free) Herbal Stimulants, Brain Antioxidants, and Nerve Tonics:
Studies on the physiological effects of herbs point to potential benefits for several brain, neurological , and performance parameters. Many of these benefits may well extend to ADHD patinets. Several herbal remedies for the nervous system are known for their stimulating effects. Frances Brinker, ND, classifies this category of herbs as ‘alertness enhancers’, due to their documented effects on nervous system function (Brinker): None of the following herbs contain caffeine.
- Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
Ginkgo leaves are remarkable for their ability of their ginkgolide and flavone glycoside-containing extracts to increase local blood flow to brain, bringing greater oxygenation to the tissues, while acting as a neural antoixidant. Ginkgo also improvies brain glucose metabolism, and positively affects levels of amine neurotransmitter substances in the brain. These benefits become more pronounced after prolonged use.
- Brahmi (Bacopa monniera)
This Ayurvedic herb has a long history of use as a cognitive enhancer. Research shows that it the protects brain from free radical damage even better than the cognitive-enhancing drug deprenyl (Battacharya), while stimulating improved learning and cognitive function (Kidd).
- Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosis)
Adaptogenic; helps to modulate stress reactions by normalizing physiological function. The extract stimulates brain activity and causes a more economical release of body energy which results in increased work output. It contains a mixture of eleutherosides A-E, including syriingin (B) and syringaresinol diglucoside (E), which have been shown to diminish stress-caused reductions of strength and memory retrieval. It also benefits growth rates.
The anti-stress effect seems to derive from its antioxidant and steroid metabolism activity on the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal endocrine function. It improves adaptation to dimished blood flow to the brain. Siberian ginseng also produces an increase of amine nerve transmitter substances in the brain and adrenal gland.
- Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica, also Hydrocotyle asiatica)
These herbs are not to be confused with the caffeine-containg Kola nut. Their triterpenoid glycosides – asiaticoside, madecassoside, and brahmoside – reduce adrenal corticosterone blood levels during stress. They have also been found to be useful for cognitive and nervous disorders and vascular problems of the brain.
- Green Oats (Avena sativa)
The fresh green seeds have been used as a mild antispasmotic and nourishing nerve tonic. Its tonic effects are not immediatly stimulating as with caffeine, but are cummulative and resotorative over time with continued use.
Various combinations of sedative and stimulating herbs have been widely used in naturopathic and herbal practice as one aspect of treatment for ADHD.